w OSU Cascades an Unhealthy Choice
I went to the open house for OSU Cascades expansion. After looking at their drawings and plans for the campus, I came to the realization that although they may have graduated with a major in architecture, their minor must have been in sales, not electrical engineering or environmental science. I guess they live in the world of their drawings where skies are always blue and the trees are always green. They can toss around concepts such as, "net zero energy footprint" and "green" campus without actually having to deliver on those promises.
If their promises were actually possible, they would already have been implemented across the country. Their own engineers will tell them that there isn't enough of this alternative energy to do the job. But they won't tell you. Their only objective is to sell the project.
Their projected classroom needs are 77,000 square feet by 2025. A solar cell array using every square foot of rooftop may generate enough for their lights, but not nearly enough for heat, especially in the short days of winter. It will require a conventional natural gas heating system.
The plan is to install geothermal heat in the filled areas under the campus. But it is way undersized for heating the classrooms, never mind the dorms. The pumice that is prevalent on the site is more of an insulator than a conductor of geothermal heat. This will reduce its economic efficiency.
Juniper Ridge was rejected for the campus for lack of sewer facilities or nearby amenities. Sewage lines at this proposed site are also inadequate to serve the campus.
Since the pit is also below the level of the city sewage system, a "living machine" is proposed to treat black water sewage and dispose of it on-site. This avoids the cost of a sewage pumping plant and tearing up 14th and Galveston for an upgrade.
But as a byproduct of digestion, it will also produce large amounts of methane and CO2 inside the pit.
During the winter, when our weather is subject to inversions, the winds drop and stagnant air hugs the ground for days.
In the microclimate of this 80-foot-deep bowl, an inversion layer during the winter will accumulate CO2, carbon monoxide and methane from the heating and sewage facilities.
This will produce a very unhealthy environment, not a green one.
The Stevens Road parcel off 27th offers 640 acres of state-owned land. It provides a sunny, expansive location for a truly green campus. Check out the Master Plan for this area at http://www.oregon.gov/dsl/LW/docs/stevensrd_final_plan.pdf
I am an environmentalist. I am also neither anti-growth nor anti-SWIP. I can envision a scenario in which, as a community, we could rationally determine that maintaining a dual water source is both environmentally feasible and economically viable. I also know that the alternative of switching to groundwater has merit that the city has willfully misrepresented.
All that stuff aside, there is a red-face test, which certain city councilors, city engineers and consultants with conflicted interests have miserably failed. I may not be an expert, but I can smell bullshit. For the past several years, I have watched and listened as the city's initial tactics of secrecy and subterfuge have given way to what can only be described as a raging torrent of bullshit...and I'm over it. Let's scrape this steaming pile of bullshit off our front porch and start making rational decisions. Don't fall for the arm waving of project proponents - the city has plenty of water, plenty of time and multiple alternatives which were neither competently nor impartially explored. I've seen enough shenanigans for half a lifetime following this issue and I'm convinced the problem lies with the people—not some intractable tug-of-war between pragmatism and idealism. The political players and city staff have proven themselves to be either dishonest or feckless, and it's time for a change.
Excellent and much needed article. Thanks, James.
What I read from this is that the city is trying to make decisions without adequate information and without looking at the big picture. The possible decommissioning of the Bend Hydro Dam should not have been a surprise to anyone working on this project. Another point that should not be a surprise will be the lack of support from Salem to permit the retention of the dam and pond as it now exists. Central Oregon's Republican delegation has little chance to convince the Democrat-led legislature that they should write a focused law just for us that is counter to all the environmental concerns so that we can retain a weed and sediment-choked pond. The state is already spending $600,000 towards a fish passage on the North Unit Dam and will probably be pleased to see the river open up to fish all the way to Wickiup.
The city should start considering funding sources for a plausible Deschutes River Project instead of fighting to retain an outdated relic of the past. There are realistic options that do retain some of the characteristics of Mirror Pond yet still meet regulatory requirements. For now we are wasting valuable time and money arguing the merits of non-starter options. There will be no "Mom & Pop" utility or new taxing district. It is time to get real.
We should be looking forward to a new yet better Deschutes River and stop crying in our Mirror Pond Pale Ale.
Just a couple of thoughts. If the PacPow dam had never been built would there be a silt problem at Drake Park? If not and PacPow is required to remove the dam and restore the surrounding land would that not require removal of the silt build-up due to the dam's existence, or at least do reclamation to the point of the City's approval?
Above all, let's remember it is WE, the taxpayers, who will be called upon to come up with the necessary financing for any solution, other that doing nothing and allowing the river to be itself. Has any one of our so-called leaders even begun to be frank with us about costs?
In closing, did you notice the increased rates for natural gas? Do we really know yet what the Tumalo water diversion rip-off is going to finally cost us? Do we have any idea what the true infrastructure costs of a four-year college are going to be? Believe me, the City and County will continue to come for our wallets. Be involved or discover, as Pogo, that sage for the ages, would say, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."
The feature story in the 12/19/13 issue on the Mirror Pond problem was the most complete article I've seen yet. I'd been waiting for The Bulletin to write a full story, but obviously that wasn't going to happen. I'd given up on The Source to write a serious, professional article of any kind, but I have to give it to James Williams and The Source for a very informative and complete (as far as I can tell) package on this very complicated issue. Good job, folks. Keep it up!
Letter of the Week!
Bill—Seriously, thank you. Seriously. We are so happy that we impressed you with our one serious article over the past few months, we seriously hope that you will accept our Letter of the Week award: a $5 certificate of seriousness at Crow's Feet Commons. Good letter, Bill. Keep it up!